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Video Game / Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara

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Once upon a time, Capcom rolled a natural 20.

— Sound effect for coin insert

Set in the world of Mystara, these games are side-scrolling beat-'em-ups by Capcom originally released for arcades and ran on the CP-System II hardware.

  • Dungeons & Dragons: Tower of Doom (1994)
  • Dungeons & Dragons: Shadow Over Mystara (1996)
A compilation of both games titled Dungeons & Dragons Collection released exclusively in Japan for the Sega Saturn in 1999. Both Tower and Shadows were released on the PlayStation Network, Xbox Live, Wii U eShop and Steam in June 18th, 2013 as Dungeons & Dragons: Chronicles of Mystara.

The games are notable for their unique blending of the Dungeons & Dragons game system and Capcom's then-popular 2D scrolling-brawler engine, put in the limelight by Final Fight back in 1989. The duology is also respected for Capcom's showing their work in regards to using the RPG system's lore and combat rules, and for providing a certain amount of depth to the beat 'em up genre that wasn't previously explored: Characters have multiple special moves, can level up, can use items and magic, can collect money to spend in towns, can equip weapons and armor, and can even choose branching paths as well as look for hidden areas, of which there are many.

The plot is pretty simple: Six adventurers, hungry for glory, hunt down evil and bring peace to the land.

An old but useful FAQ is available here.

These video games provide examples of:

  • Adam Smith Hates Your Guts: Congratulations! You've just saved the gnome village from a monster attack! Please, come and visit...oh, but you're a little big. Don't worry, we have a potion to make you gnome-sized, but it'll cost you.
  • Adaptation Distillation: Capcom did a pretty good job of breaking down an encyclopedia's worth of a pen and paper game into a beat em up. The closest thing anyone has come close to recreating the experience can pretty much be only found in Castle Crashers, Dragon's Crown or Dungeon Fighter Online (the latter being a real RPG, of the MMO variety.)
  • A.I. Breaker: If you stall for long enough, non-boss enemies will quit the scene. It's possible to find somewhere that the enemies will be (due to bad AI) unable to reach you with their weapons, so you can just sit there to bypass battles.
  • Animesque: The characters look just like Eastern RPG ones. It's mostly because the artist for the games is Kinu Nishimura, one of Capcom's prominent artists.
  • Anti-Magic: In a nice nod to the source material, magic users won't be able to cast spells when the Beholder's central anti-magic eye is open and looking in their direction. Of course, good luck figuring out what's going on if you don't know D&D monsters. A sign in the second game helpfully provides this information, though.
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Many of the pieces of equipment that actually do something useful will also break after taking a few hits. And you will take a lot of hits.
  • Background Boss: The Red Dragon bosses in each game.
  • Back Stab: One of the Thief's moves. An instant kill, but requires some setup.
  • Big Bad: The archlich Deimos in the first game, the dragon/sorceress Synn in the second (where another lich is a minor boss).
  • Big Damn Heroes: A number across both games.
    • Tower of Doom:
    • Shadows over Mystara:
      • Tel'Arin decides to simply blast you with fireballs after losing the duel. When preparing a second blast, Tel'Eleron comes out of nowhere, knocks him down mid charge and then blasts him with another fireball. Tel'Arin, wounded, retreats.
      • The Glantri Air Force during the ending, who use the artillery on their airships to attack the Fiend.
  • Booby Trap: Inside many chests.
  • Boring Yet Practical: Mundane consumables like Daggers and Arrows do surprisingly good damage at range, especially if used repeatedly. Throwing Hammers are like this as well, yet are thrown on an arc that can hit flyers and they stun their target to boot. Large Burning Oils can hit 4 times with a single throw. The Thief in the second game comes with an infinite ammo sling that does very little damage, but can be rapid fired to stunlock anything.
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Practically required to get the Sword of Legend. You need to use the Cursed Blade enough times, and each time you attack with the Cursed Blade it drains your health. It's almost impossible to get without continuing two or three times, minimum.
  • Bullfight Boss: The first boss of Shadows, War Machine, charges at you repeatedly with a mess of kitbashed spears.
  • But Thou Must!: Your options when asked to deal with the Black Dragon in Tower of Doom are "Of course" and "We'll do our best!"
  • Cast from Hit Points:
    • Final Strike. With high enough total EXP count and a Magic-User who's equipped with the Staff Of Wizardry, having every playable character hit every button on the console brings down a literal wrath of the gods that instantly shreds all opponents but the final boss, at the cost of the Staff of Wizardry, as well as draining everybody's hit points down to one.
    • The Desperation Attack, which is a whirl-around-and-hit-everyone attack that drains your HP bar.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: The Storm Blade, Staff of Serpents, Wand of Fire, and Wand of Ice have a neat effect but are just-plain-worse than normal weapons in many circumstances. Meteor Swarm looks nice but is near-useless against the one boss you get to try it against.
  • Cosmetic Award: High scores from people who defeated the red dragon in both games have a flying dragon icon.
  • Cursed Item: There are two aptly named cursed items, the Cursed Blade, which causes you to take damage every time you attack with it, and the Cursed Blade 2, which causes you to fall asleep instead of attacking. If you attack with the Cursed Blade enough times, it will eventually turn into the Sword of Legend, but this will probably kill you at least two or three times before it happens. If the Cleric tries to pick up the Cursed Blade 2 enough times, it turns into the Holy Avenger, but as he can't use swords this makes it impossible to actually get the weapon in a single-player game.
  • Degraded Boss:
    • Deimos, the Final Boss of the first game reappears in the second game as a boss under the name "Lich".
    • The Ogre, boss of the first level, appears later on as an Elite Mook.
  • Dem Bones: Standard skeleton warriors with one-handed swords and round shields. In "Shadows Over Mystara" it's shown they're not affected by Magic-User's "Cloud-Kill" spell, but in both games can be affected by "Magic Missle," and "Elemental Magic" like "Fire Ball," "Lightning Bolt" and "Ice Storm."
  • Desperation Attack: Tapping Attack and Jump simultaneously unleashes a "Panic Attack" which clears out enemies on either side of you and knocks them down, at the cost of some hit points. Although panic attacks are common in beat 'em ups, it is useless here because you have uppercut attacks, magic, sliding, and burning oils for this purpose, and using any of them doesn't damage you in the process. The Elf's version (a shield of floating leaves) is useful and damaging enough to be worth the cost, however.
  • Doomy Dooms of Doom: Title of the first game!
  • The Dragon:
    • A unique but unnamed Shadow Elf is the Dragon to Deimos in Tower of Doom.
    • Nagpa is The Dragon in Shadow over Mystara. To Synn, who is an actual dragon herself.
  • Dual Boss: The mud golems before Deimos, and the Displacer Beast at Fort Cruth (although as usual with Displacer Beasts, one's a fake).
    • Also Ogre Master Bros.
  • Dual Wielding: The Fighter can do this if he finds a short sword. The Thief wields a sword and dagger for her charging attack.
  • Dungeon Shop: The orcs living in Synn's castle are perfectly willing to do business with the adventurers who are out to kill her.
  • Easy Levels, Hard Bosses: In the early game, the levels are there to wear you down, assuming you're not good enough to stay ahead of the resource curve. The bosses are there to kill you, and many such bosses can cost an inexperienced player several quarters.
  • Eldritch Abomination: Synn's ultimate plan is to summon a monstrosity known only as "The Fiend." Thankfully (or not), you never get to fight the Fiend, as the Glantri Air Force comes in and blasts the creature back into the pit it spawned from.
  • Elite Four: Synn's four generals: Nagpa, Tel-Arin, Dark Warrior 2, and Ezerhorden.
  • Evil Laugh: Tel'Arin loves doing this.
  • Evil Tower of Ominousness: Sable Tower, the eponymous tower of Tower of Doom.
  • Flunky Boss: The majority of boss fights are like this, with regular enemies that keep showing up during the fight.
  • Gravity Is a Harsh Mistress: For comical effect, the Goblin War Machine and its drivers display Gravitational Cognizance when it runs off a cliff.
  • Guide Dang It!:
    • Uncursing the Holy Avenger requires the Cleric to pick up the Cursed Blade 2 until it changes. As the Cleric can't actually wield swords, this actually makes getting the Holy Avenger impossible in a single-player game. Uncursing the Sword of Legend requires you to use it and lose enough HP (usually at least 3 lives worth) until it transforms.
    • The Spell of Final Strike is hinted at by the immortal you come across while traversing the river, but the Magic User has to have a specific item equipped to use it, and it involves everyone hitting all the buttons at the same time.
    • Both games have hidden areas, and Tower of Doom has missable towns.
    • If you don't know the actual game's lore, things like the Anti-Magic eye from the beholder and the troll's regeneration ability (along with how to stop it) will come at you out of nowhere.
  • Gunship Rescue: In the ending of Shadows, the Glantri Air Force drops as many bombs as it's got on the awakening Fiend, taking it down.
  • Have a Nice Death: Bosses taunt you as the continue timer ticks in the first game.
  • Head Swap: Shadows over Mystara introduces alternate versions of all the playable characters. Both versions are pretty much the same, except the Cleric and the Magic-User have a couple spells different between them. For the Clerics, Greldon has 'Sticks to Snakes' and 'Holy Word' while Miles has 'Insect Swarm' and 'Earth Quake'. For the Magic-Users, Syous has 'Conjure Elemental Fire/Water' and 'Meteor Swarm' while D'Raven has 'Cloud Kill' and 'Power Word Kill'.
    • The chimera boss from the second game has pretty much the same body sprite as the manticore, just with the head of a lion, a goat and a dragon and a snake tail in place of a spiked one.
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]: The characters can be given the name of the player's choice - a piece of your starting gear is calculated from it. Some specific "names" are in fact cheat codes.
  • High Collar of Doom: Synn's outfit.
  • House Rules: The Chronicles of Mystara release includes seven house rules that you can unlock.
    • Unbreakable - equippable magic items have infinite durability
    • Enemy Rush - special Time Attack mode, 30 seconds on the clock and every enemy defeated increases the time
    • Vampirism - each successful attack restores health
    • Elimination Mode - players are limited to a single credit and race to see who lasts the longest
    • Hedgehog - you lose money instead of health
    • Lockpick - you no longer require keys to unlock locked chests
    • Make It Rain - drastically increases the amount of money gained from pick-ups
  • Improvised Lockpick: As in the tabletop game, characters usually need special lockpicking tools to open doors, but can also attempt it with improvised implements at a substantial penalty to the Disable Device roll.
  • Infinity +1 Sword:
    • The Dragonslayer Sword. To get it, you have to kill a Superboss who's even stronger than Synn.
    • The Sword of Legend requires you to burn HP (and probably coins too) wielding the Cursed Sword until you break the curse.
  • Instant-Win Condition: In Shadow, if you have obtained the Staff of Wizardry for the Magic-User, you can cast Final Strike, which will kill Synn instantly.
  • Kill It with Fire: Fireballs and Oil of Burning obviously. A little Guide Dang It! for those who haven't played the source material, the troll boss at the end of one of the stages in Tower of Doom will continue to get up, regenerating lost life until you do this. If you don't have any fireballs/oil on you and time is about to run out, some archers with flaming arrows will finish the job.
  • Killed Offscreen:
    • This happens in the first game to someone no matter what you do. If you decide to get someone else to help Fort Cruth, along the way you save a girl from a manticore but later learn that everyone at Fort Cruth was killed. If you go save Fort Cruth yourself, you can later talk to a merchant who tells you that his daughter disappeared in the woods near Fort Cruth, presumably eaten by the manticore (on the other hand, if you save her, she'll thank you herself with a bonus ring and discounted prices). You can't save everyone.
    • invokedIn the second game, after you beat the Displacer Beast at the Groove of Destruction, a gnome woman appears and speaks to you, asking you if you could save the gnome village from an army of monsters led by a chimera. You can either go and aid them or keep pursuing Synn through The Lost Forest and abandon the gnomes to their luck. While we don't learn anything about what ultimately happened to them if you decide to ignore them, it's rather safe to assume that the monsters destroyed their village and the chimera slaughtered them all.
  • The Lost Woods: The Lost Forest has multiple branches. If you take the correct route, you'll avoid the Black Dragon penalty stage.
  • Mistaken for Prostitute: Touching one of the shopkeepers makes her protest that "I'm not for sale!"
  • One-Hit Kill: Red Dragon breath — whether from above, the side, or the background. Thankfully the Red Dragon bosses only use it three times per boss fight.
  • Our Orcs Are Different: Surprisingly in Shadows, orcs are never fought as enemies. Instead, they are eloquent shopkeepers who know how to do things like forge a dragon's horn into the Dragonslayer Sword.
  • Palette Swap: Tel'Arin and Tel'Eleron. The latter is a Shadow Elf, the other is a normal elf. Also Deimos and Lich, both are liches, except the former is the Final Boss and the latter is a lesser boss.
  • Percussive Pickpocket: The Thief can pickpocket enemies by dashing into them, causing them to drop a random item.
  • Press X to Not Die: For example, shaking off petrification.
  • Randomly Drops: The loot from bosses, chests, some enemies and the Thief's stealing attempts may vary slightly.
  • Reality Warping: A few spells and items (e.g., Polymorph Other and Manticore Skin) function like this.
  • Remember the New Guy?: Shadows treats the Thief and Magic-User as if they have been adventuring with the party since the beginning. The Thief even mentions procuring a MacGuffin from the first game that is important to unlocking the final stage.
  • Reverse Grip: The Thief wields full-sized swords this way.
  • Sealed Evil in a Can: The Fiend in Shadows.
  • Self-Duplication: Employed by Tel'Arin and Tel'Eleron in a cutscene, where they split into five and toss fireballs.
  • Skippable Boss: In Mystara:
    • First off, this is a branching game, so many bosses are skippable or even mutually exclusive; just take a different route.
    • In the Labyrinth Maze, should you go there, you can get through the maze without challenging the Black Dragon.
    • Played with by Tel'Arin's last battle. You do have to kill him, but you can alter the location of his final boss fight if you have a Dwarf in your party, and if you do, his boss fight level will be replaced by a monster romp.
    • If you save Tel'Eleron in the alternate Tel'Arin battle, he will kill Nagpa for you.
  • Shown Their Work: Aside from accurately incorporating rules and monsters from Dungeons & Dragons, the games are set in the world of Mystara, the campaign setting that originated with Basic Dungeons & Dragons. The Night Dragon Synn is a major villain in the campaign.
    • Given the level of accuracy they've shown, the Holy Avenger is an intentional deviation for the sake of interesting gameplay. While the exact details vary among different D&D versions, Holy Avengers can only be used by Paladins (which the game lacks); it's a normal magic weapon if other classes wield it. In this game, it's not even magical in nature.
    • Despite Synn having previously being established as a Night Dragon (the Mystara version of a Shadow Dragon), she instead appears as a Red Dragon. From a technical standpoint, it may have been done because a black-scaled dragon would have blended into the black background during her boss battle. From a lore standpoint, it's never said when the events of the games occur in the timeline of Mystara, meaning they could have taken place well before Synn became a Night Dragon.
  • Shoryuken: All characters but the Magic-User can do this. The Fighter can hit twice with his, and the Thief's includes a free Large Burning Oil for combo purposes.
  • Silver Bullet: Silver Daggers and Silver Arrows are highly-effective on the undead.
  • Socialization Bonus: The Holy Avenger is multiplayer-only. Specifically, it requires a cleric to unlock and then a Fighter or Elf to use.
  • Some Dexterity Required:
    • The item/spell selection menu in Shadow, specially for the spellcasting classes.
    • Tower's commands for slide-dodging and lunge attacks are very fiddly; Hold down and Jump to crouch, move the stick down and forward, then let go of Jump and immediately press Jump/Attack while you're getting up. Shadow replaced this with a more sensible quarter circle motion.
  • Sorting Algorithm of Evil: Invoked by the Grand Masters, who consider Tel-Arin (the one of them you fight first) to be the weakest of their number, and defied when you defeat Dark Warrior 2, who is supposedly the strongest but is fought before Nagpa, who serves as The Dragon, and claims to be the "greatest" Grand Master.
  • Spider-Sense: The Thief can see traps, including the type of trap.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The King of Dragons.
  • Squishy Wizard: The elf in the first game, the Magic-User in Mystara. In fact, the MU is so squishy, he doesn't even have a basic combo attack chain, rush move, "knock-everyone-around-down-at-the-cost-of-some-life" attack or uppercut. To his defense, however, every 1 out of 16 dagger stabs (an otherwise useless extra attack that he has instead of a knockdown attack) is an insta-kill to anything he is fighting, save for bosses, and even they take a significant amount of damage from it.
  • Stripperiffic: Both Thief outfits, Synn the Night Dragon in her human form, and every Shadow Elf enemy (including the males).
  • Suspicious Video-Game Generosity: Surprisingly for what was designed as a quarter-munching arcade game. In Tower of Doom, you're given the option of approaching Sable Tower either by going around the mountains right away, or resting up and going through a dwarven tunnel where the red dragon Flamewing is located. Try that second option and the game basically asks you, "Are you sure?" and then, "Are you really sure?" Keep pressing on and you find out why it was so insistent — Flamewing will annihilate you, most likely.
  • Superboss: Both games have a Red Dragon as a Superboss, who is every bit as tough as (if not tougher than) the Big Bad. Beating them adds a special icon to your name in the high score list.
  • Teased with Awesome: Some really neat weapons, such as the Sword of Flame, Sword of Frost, or Dragon Slayer, show up in the next-to-last level. There's also a secret store that sells very powerful weapons, that can only be found a few levels from the end. The treasure screen more-directly teases you with awesome by showing you all the awesome you didn't find.
  • This Looks Like a Job for Aquaman: Some levels can only be unlocked if you have the right character (The Elf and Dwarf both have unique paths near the end of the game), the Holy Avenger requires a Cleric to get (but he can't use it), the Magic User can't push heavy objects, and the Fighter can't read most signs.
  • The Unfought: The Fiend in the second game shows up as part of the ending, but isn't fought.
  • Timed Mission: Sometimes inverted. If you time out of a level or situation, the game may just move you on instead of killing you.
  • Vancian Magic: True to the original game, all magic users have finite spells, only rechargeable by beating the level or finding spell scrolls. If you are the Magic-User and you drain your spell tree killing kobolds, you are effectively fucked.
  • Victory Pose: Every stage ends with a hearty Battle Cry as the heroes brandish their weapons, usually by raising them overhead. The only exception is Tel'Arin's first battle, when he declares Heads I Win, Tails You Lose and escapes.
  • Villain of Another Story: Implied with the Red Dragon Flamewing in Tower of Doom, whom you only meet if you try to reach the Sable Tower through the old dwarf tunnels. If you choose to fight him, you are told nobody has ever been able to scratch him, and before the fight he questions if it was "honor or greed" that brought you to his lair, implying him to be a villain in his own right who just isn't the focus of the game.
  • Weapon of X-Slaying: The Dragonslayer Sword, which is nearly as good as the Sword of Legend against Synn. Also, the Holy Avenger, which either instantly kills or does extra damage to undead.
  • "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue: The ending of Shadows briefly mentions what each Player Character did after the game. The ending changes based on how much money your character collected during the adventure, which character you used, and what special items they have. For example, obtaining the Sword of Legend with the Dwarf will reflect upon him trying to make a weapon even more powerful than it.
  • Wolfpack Boss: Nagpa fights alongside a manticore and a black dragon.

Alternative Title(s): Dungeons And Dragons, Dungeons And Dragons Shadow Over Mystara, Dungeons And Dragons Tower Of Doom, Shadow Over Mystara